Living 50 Plus Magazine October/November 2022

Page 1

Heartfelt art


Still on the job

Leigh Ann Hurst began making jewelry 13 years ago and exhibits at shows such as River Clay, Page 20 OCTOBER / NOVEMBER 2022 Decatur-Morgan Southern
Amateur dulcimer players jam weekly at senior center, Page 12
Four employees at GE Appliances’ Decatur plant have worked there since it opened in 1977, Page 28


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Men and women may have more free time after 50 than they had in previous decades. As children grow more independent and even leave the house, parents look to various activities, including travel, to fill their free time.


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Published by Decatur Daily Tennessee Valley Media

ON THE COVER: Leigh Ann Hurst is shown in her Decatur studio where she makes handcrafted jewelry to sell at retail stores and art shows such as the River Clay Fine Arts Festival. Photo by Jeronimo Nisa. Cover design by Stephen Johnson.

Travel is often seen as a luxury but heading off for parts unknown can produce some serious health benefits. A joint study from the Global Coalition on Aging and the Transamerica Center for Retirement Studies found that women who vacation at least twice a year have a lower risk for heart attack than those who travel once every six years.

The study also found that men who do not take annual vacations are at a significantly higher risk of death (20 percent) and heart disease (30 percent) than those who take time to get away each year.

Vacations don’t even need to be long to produce significant, positive results. A 2018 study published in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health found that a four-day long weekend vacation positively affected well-being, recovery, strain, and perceived stress for as long as 45 days.

4 Decatur Living 50 Plus
comments: Bruce


Weather is often the first indicator that the seasons are changing. For many people across the globe, the hot days of summer have already started giving way to the crisper days of fall. The 2022 autumnal equinox occurred on September 22. That marks the official beginning of fall, also known as autumn. In fact, the season that follows summer seemingly goes by two different names is just one of many interesting facts about fall.

▸ A season by any other name. Fall is the term most often used to reference the season succeeding summer in the United States. But the season is referred to as “autumn” in other parts of the world, including Great Britain. Fall was once even known as “harvest” because of

the harvest moon, which appears close to the autumnal equinox.

▸ The colors of fall foliage are actually present year-round. Fall is known for its colorful foliage. But the pigments responsible for those colors are actually present year-round. According to the SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry, green, yellow, and orange pigments are present year-round. However, during spring and summer, the leaves serve as factories where many foods necessary to help the tree grow are manufactured. That process takes place in the leaf in cells containing chlorophyll, which gives the leaves their green color. This process ceases as hours of daylight decrease and temperatures drop. As a result, chlorophyll breaks down, the green color disappears, and the vivid colors of fall foliage begin to appear.

6 Decatur Living 50 Plus

Squirrels have a (sophisticated) plan out there. Squirrels hiding food in autumn for the upcoming winter is a familiar sight. And squirrels are more organized than many people may know. Groundbreaking research released in 1991 found that, even when squirrels bury that stash of nuts closely to one another, they will each return to the precise location of their personal cache. Recent research also has shown that squirrels bury their stash based on certain traits, such as the type of nut being buried.

▸ Babies born in fall are more likely to see the century mark. Researchers at the University of Chicago studied more than 1,500 centenarians born in the United States between 1880 and 1895. They then compared birth and death information with those centenarians’ siblings and spouses so they could compare their early environment and genetic background and their adult environment. Their research found that most centenarians were born between September and November.

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ach November, individuals across the United States gather to remember and honor the brave men and women who devoted their lives to maintaining the freedoms U.S. residents continue to enjoy. Veterans Day is celebrated on November 11 and pays tribute to all American

veterans - including the living and deceased - but especially thanks the living veterans who served honorably during war or peacetime, according to

Veterans Day originally was known as Armistice Day, which was established to commemorate the end

of World War I. In 1954, President Dwight D. Eisenhower officially changed the name of the holiday to Veterans Day in an effort to recognize all veterans.

That name change is just one of many interesting facts about Veterans Day.

8 Decatur Living 50 Plus 4 6 3 9 2 2 1

▸ November 11, 1918, was largely considered the end of the “war to end all wars,” even though the Treaty of Versailles, which officially ended World War I, was signed roughly seven months later on June 28, 1919.

▸ While Veterans Day is an American holiday, Canada, Great Britain, Australia, and France also honor the veterans of World War I and World War II on or near November 11th. Canada celebrates Remembrance Day, while Britain observes Remembrance Sunday each year on the second Sunday of November.

▸ Data from the Department of Veterans Affairs says there are around 19 million U.S. veterans

▸ Arlington National Cemetery outside of Washington, D.C., holds an annual memorial service on both Memorial Day and Veterans Day. That cemetery is home to the graves of more than 400,000 people, most of whom served in the military.

▸ Gulf War-era veterans now account for the largest percentage of all U.S. veterans, surpassing the number of Vietnam War-era veterans by almost two million, according to the VA.

▸ Memorial Day is a time to remember those who died in battle or from wounds suffered in battle. However, Veterans Day honors all of the people who served their country, including both living and deceased veterans.

United States Bureau of


up approximately 10 percent of the veteran population.

2025, that number is expected to climb to 12 percent.

▸ In 2016, President Barack Obama signed the Veterans Day Moment of Silence Act. At 3:11 p.m. (Atlantic Standard Time) on Veterans Day, a moment of silence is observed and continues for 120 seconds.

▸ The last living American WWI veteran died in 2011. His name was Frank Buckles.

▸ Last year, 37 percent of veterans were age 70 and older, according to Pew Research. An additional 36 percent of veterans were between the ages of 50 and 69.

▸ The U.S. Census Bureau indicates the percentage of the American population with military experience is on the decline. In 2018, about 7 percent of U.S. adults were veterans, down from 18 percent in 1980.

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Chrysanthemums, also known as mums, are iconic horticulture features of autumn each year. However, these flowers can be difficult to take care of for some consumers. An Alabama Cooperative Extension System county extension coordinator has some useful tips on how to not kill your mums.


Many Alabamians love to see mums’ bright blooms contrast with the fall landscape. This is a good thing because mums grow well in Alabama according to Chilton County Extension Coordinator Lucy Edwards.

“There are two main categories of mums: floral and garden,” Edwards said. “Floral mums are those that typically

10 Decatur Living 50 Plus 463918-1 Highway 31South,Decatur 256.353.6232 • 4 6 3 9 0 0 1

are not grown outside and sold by florist for arrangements. Garden mums are those that people see in garden centers during the fall.”

There are also types of mums that are categorized by flower type and shape. The two most common types are daisy mums and decorative flower mums. Colors range from white, bronze, yellow, red, coral, pink, lavender and red.


For some chrysanthemum enthusiasts, choosing the best mum might as well be as important as picking the perfect Christmas tree. Edwards said there are a couple characteristics to look for when choosing the right mum.

Buy mums with unopened blooms. When buying a mum, it can be tempting to grab the largest, fully-blooming plant. Make sure to buy the mums with their blooms not quite open. This choice will allow for a longer blooming time once you get it home.

Always check for insects and diseases. Nobody wants a sick plant. Be on the lookout for powdery mildew in mums. This disease can occur after hot and humid fall seasons. To control mildew, remove all infected leaves and treat the mum with an appropriately labeled fungicide.


Once you have learned about mums and how to choose the right one at your local garden center, you must know how to keep it alive. To boil it down, mums require moist, well-draining soil combined with six plus hours of daily sunlight. Below are the primary guidelines on caring for mums.


Whether you prefer your mums repotted from its original pot or planted in a landscape, there are some guidelines to ensure a successful plant. As stated earlier, mums need moist, well-draining soil. Ensure that any mum is in a location that receives six plus hours of daily sunlight.

“Plant your mums at the same depth as the size of their original containers,” Edwards said. “It’s better to plant too shallow that too deep.”

Edwards also said garden mums will bloom best if they are divided every two to three years. Otherwise, any new growth will be long and spindly with fewer blooms. Pinching new shoots in the spring will encourage lateral shoots, providing more flowers and a fuller plant. Do not pinch after July or the mum may not have time for blooms to develop.


Edwards explicitly says the most common mistake in caring for mums is forgetting to water them daily. In the fall months, rainfall can be scarce, meaning consumers

should adequately water their mums and ensure any excess water drains out of a pot or naturally runs off a planting site. A good routine is feeling the soil’s moisture each day to the depth of 1 inch. If it feels moist, wait a day and check again. If it feels dry in the top inch, be sure water that day.

“It is easy to assume the plant is fine. Too often cooler temperatures lead us to neglect the task of watering,” Edwards said. “It is easy to assume the plant is fine. Before we realize it, there is a dead plant on the front porch.”

If you are prone to forgetting to water, replant the mum in a container that has a reservoir or add a saucer to collect the water. These will extend the time between waterings.


Soon, these popular fall floral features will be appearing on front porches around the state. Now that you know your mum musts, help a neighbor by sharing these tips. For more information about mums and other seasonal plants, please visit the Alabama Extension website at www.


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Alece Alexander, left, and Nancy Fortune, or “Regular Nancy,” play “Oh, Susannah” on their mountain dulcimers.


MAKING Music Memories


Sliding her fingers along the strings of the dulcimer’s neck, Lori Matthews picked out the recognizable tune of “Oh, Susannah.”

“The dulcimer is very easy to learn but takes a lifetime to master,” the 64-year-old Matthews said.

Every Wednesday morning, amateur musicians, some wheeling laundry baskets carrying dulcimer cases, gather at the Decatur-Morgan Senior Center to jam with the Morgan County Dulcimer Association.


“I love the type of music that is played on the dulcimer. It is old-timey mountain music and spirituals. Really, though, you can play anything on a dulcimer — country, hillbilly and rock ‘n’ roll,” said Janet Henderson.

As the dulcimer player with the most experience, the 74-year-old Henderson is described by the association’s members as the “mama” of the group.

Janet Henderson.

“She pretty much taught all of us how to play,” Nancy McCarthy, 78, said.

In 2000, Henderson started learning the dulcimer through Decatur City Schools’ continuing education program under instructors Jon and Clara Harris.

“I always really wanted to learn to play music. When my mother passed away, I began going to classes. I looked at it as grief therapy. I have loved the instrument ever since,” Henderson said

While the music originally brought the dulcimer players, who range in age from 58 to 83, together, a spirit of camaraderie keeps them returning.

“My husband and I bought dulcimers in 2009 in Tennessee, but we didn’t know how to play. I didn’t learn until I happened upon a group playing dulcimers at the Battle of Decatur (Civil War reenactment),” Matthews said. “That was 12 years ago when I stumbled across the people that became my best friends. I have found the dulcimer community to be very open and welcoming with traditional values.”

“This is a form of therapy for all of us,” 76-year-old Alece Alexander said.

Decatur Living 50 Plus 13
“I love the type of music that is played on the dulcimer.
It is old-timey mountain music and spirituals. Really, though, you can play anything on a dulcimer — country, hillbilly and rock ‘n’ roll.”
Alece Alexander,
started playing the mountain dulcimer at
50 PLUS]

Janis Johnson, a new member to the dulcimer group, is learning how to play the hammer dulcimer.


During the height of the pandemic, when the senior center was closed to gatherings, Henderson and Matthews met for jam sessions.

“We would get together, socially distanced of course, and play our dulcimers. I believe that was the therapy we needed to get us through that hard time,” Matthews said.


Most of the musicians play the mountain dulcimer, a sleek, lap instrument routinely featured in folk music, but also showcased in other genres.

“You’d be surprised by who plays the dulcimer. Cyndi Lauper plays it and Dolly Parton plays it. You have to listen very closely to hear the dulcimer because it is designed to blend in with the other instruments,” said Russell Johnson.

To play the instrument with roots in the Southern Appalachian Mountains, musicians strum or pluck the dulcimer’s three or four strings with one hand and, with the other hand, press down on the fret board to control pitch.

Nancy Fortune’s first encounter with the instrument

occurred in 1977, 25 years before she started playing the instrument.

“I got a dulcimer when we were living in Kentucky and hung it on the wall. It wasn’t until I met Janet in 2002 that I took it off of the wall and started to play,” said the 83-year-old Fortune, who wore a necklace with a dulcimer pendant and covered her music stand with a small quilt featuring the design of a dulcimer.

Along with the longtime players — Henderson with 22 years, Fortune with 20 years, Alexander with 15 years and Matthews with 12 years — the association includes new members, husband and wife Russell and Janis Johnson, and Mona Allen.

“Janis started coming here and playing first. She seemed to be having fun with it, so I thought I’d give it a try, too. I’m working on learning the dulcimer. Right now, I’m playing guitar. I got my first guitar in 1969, played it

14 Decatur Living 50 Plus
“This is a form of therapy for all of us.” Alece Alexander.

through the 1980s, but then put it down. Now I’m playing again and enjoying it,” Russell Johnson, 63, said.

“We’re really glad to have Russell. We’ve been needing a guitar picker for a while,” Henderson said. “We’re also really happy to have Janis and Mona join us. We are always looking for new people.”

Along with the mountain dulcimer, Henderson, president of the Morgan County Dulcimer Association, owns a hammered dulcimer, which makes sounds when small hammers strike the strings. Think of a xylophone combined with a harp.


The Morgan County Dulcimer Association meets every Wednesday from 9:30 to 11:15 a.m. If you come, expect to hear the popular tunes of “Old Joe Clark,” “Carolina Waltz,” “Nearer the Cross” and “Amazing Grace.”

The musicians also have started to learn the ukuleles after lunch on Wednesdays.

“We can already make three or four chords,” McCarthy said with a chuckle.

The Morgan County Dulcimer Association is one of 40 programs housed at the Decatur–Morgan Senior Center, an activities site for people 50 and older on Memorial Drive Southwest. More than 620 seniors participate in the programs, center director Amy Rakestraw said. Other participants at the nonprofit center participate in the card games canasta, Rook, bridge and hand and foot. The center also holds line dancing every Friday at 10 a.m.

“People can just show up and we will show them around and tell them which groups are open to new members and when those groups meet,” Rakestraw said.

Decatur Living 50 Plus 15
Nancy McCarthy, or “Red Nancy,” as she is known at the Decatur-Morgan County Senior Center, plays “Old Joe Clark.” [CATHERINE GODBEY/LIVING 50 PLUS] Nancy Fortune’s mountain dulcimer features a pouch to hold her picks. [CATHERINE GODBEY/LIVING 50 PLUS]


Homeowners turning 65 can reduce their property tax by having the state portion of the tax bite exempt if they apply for it by Dec. 31.

Morgan County Revenue Commissioner Amanda Scott said about 7,500 senior homeowners in the county are taking advantage of the agerelated homestead exemption. She said that is about 17% of the county’s 43,640 parcels with homestead exemptions.

“A property owner is required to come into our office once they reach age 65 and verify their income by bringing in their federal and state income tax returns,” Scott said for those eligible.

The Alabama Department of Revenue defines a homestead as “a single-family owner-occupied dwelling and the land thereto, not exceeding 160 acres.”

It said the owner may receive a homestead exemption if he or she owns a single-family residence and occupies

it as their primary residence on the first day of the tax year for which they are applying.

Those 65 and older also can receive exemptions from the county portion of property tax. Scott said depending on income, some seniors may even be eligible for not paying any property tax.

“If federal taxable income is $12,000 or less then there may not be any property taxes due for that tax year,” Scott said. “If that criteria is not met, the state of Alabama income tax return is used to determine if adjusted gross income is $12,000 or less. There will be a reduction in tax if it is.”

Frank Miles, spokesman with the state revenue department in Montgomery, said the agency did not have the data on what the average tax savings is per eligible homeowner. The senior also will receive the regular homestead exemption ($2,000 assessed value) on county taxes, according to the state’s website.

Seniors must file for the exemption every year. Once they establish initial eligibility, they can mail in copies of the required income tax forms in subsequent years, officials said.

“If you meet the eligibility requirements and want to apply for a homestead exemption, then head to the office of your county’s revenue commissioner or tax assessor,” Miles said.

Scott said, “It’s worth anybody’s time to come in.”

She said somebody 65 or older who doesn’t want to provide income tax forms, can still apply for the age-based exemption from state property tax.

Scott said those in Morgan County can claim their age exemptions at the county’s three revenue offices at the Morgan County Courthouse, the Hartselle Service Center on Schull Road or the District 4 office on Union Hill Road in Cotaco.

16 Decatur Living 50 Plus
Mindy Padgett, left, helps Tom Cruse at the Morgan County Revenue Office in September. Residents turning 65 or homeowners who moved into the county when already at least 65 can apply at the office for homestead exemptions available to seniors. [JERONIMO NISA/LIVING 50 PLUS]

Call for holiday recipes

Decatur Living 50 Plus 17 Thankful to ourcommunities forcallingand keepingus busythrough2021!Our familiesappreciate YOU! Shane Jones,President 506852-1
Do you have special dishes or sweets you make for the winter holiday? Living 50 Plus wants to know about your favorite festive foods, including cookies, pies, casseroles and side dishes. We’ll share as many submitted recipes as possible in the December issue of the Living 50 Plus magazine. Getting them to us is easy. Put the recipe into an email ( along with a short explanation about the recipe, your name, hometown and phone number. If possible, include a photo of the dish. Deadline to submit recipes is Oct. 24.
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Gem of an Artist


Leigh Ann Hurst never considered herself creative. That changed, though, when her mother, Glenda Sartain, dropped by with some gemstones.

“It was the summer of 2009. She had gotten the gemstones to entertain my niece with. They made necklaces and my mother asked me to do it with her. At first, I told her I didn’t have time, but then I agreed,” Hurst said.

While piecing together the jewelry, something clicked.

“I got interested and wanted to pursue it more, not as a business, but as a hobby. The more I learned about it, the more I fell in love with it,” Hurst said.

Now, 13 years later, the 58-year-old Decatur woman sells her handcrafted jewelry at retail stores in Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Mississippi, North Carolina and Tennessee, and has attended art festivals from Wyoming to Florida.

Hurst’s calendar this year includes Decatur’s River Clay Fine Arts Festival on Oct. 22-23.

“I’m not just saying this because Decatur is my hometown, but River

Clay is one of the nicest shows for both the artists and patrons. It is wonderful,” said Hurst, who has been participating at River Clay since the second annual festival in 2016.

Hurst represents one of 70 artists from 13 states selected for River Clay, said Mary Reed, the festival’s artist liaison. The art mediums range from jewelry, painting, sculpting, drawing and photography to wood carving, metal, fiber, glass, ceramics and mixed media.

The two-day festival will include the artists’ market, artist demonstrations, music, children’s activities, student art exhibits and chalk artists.

20 Decatur Living 50 Plus
Leigh Ann Hurst works in her studio as Sofia keeps her company.

At Hurst’s booth, festivalgoers can expect to see her best-selling narrow mixed-metal bracelets and elongated cross necklaces as well as some new, experimental pieces.

“I hope I have designs no one has ever seen before. I will have interesting cuffs and earrings that incorporate anticlastic and synclastic techniques that I learned at a recent workshop,” Hurst said.

For Hurst, who graduated from Auburn University with a degree in interior furnishings and equipment, the art of jewelry making has been a learning process since she created her first piece.

“After I graduated, I worked at Glee Interiors for four years. When my first child was born, I stayed home and raised my children,” Hurst said.

“I didn’t realize I had a desire to do anything else until my mother brought over the gemstones. But that desire to create was there. I have loved creating pieces and learning more and more about my craft.”

She attended workshops with Huntsville metal artist Connie Ulrich and North Carolina metalsmith James Carter. She took classes at the Arrowmont School of Arts and Crafts in Gatlinburg, Tennessee, and, during the height of the pandemic, she

Decatur Living 50 Plus 21
Leigh Ann Hurst uses different materials to imprint patterns on metal. [JERONIMO NISA/LIVING 50 PLUS] Leigh Ann Hurst uses a rolling mill to create a pattern on a piece of silver. [JERONIMO NISA/LIVING 50 PLUS] Earrings created by Leigh Ann Hurst. [JERONIMO NISA/LIVING 50 PLUS]

participated in virtual classes offered by Metalwerx in Boston. She learned about cold connections, soldering and forging.

“The business actually took off before I was really ready,” Hurst said. “In 2010, I did a show in Nashville and had made these wonderful earrings with just a piece of wire. They were lightweight and really cute, but I didn’t realize you had to buff off the end of the wire. I only found out that I was missing that step when people tried on the earrings and mentioned how sharp the end was.”

Hurst continued to learn. She took classes, read books and watched YouTube videos on creating jewelry.

Her creations reflected the styles that appealed to her.

“I’ve always loved modern and contemporary styles, metals and straight lines. That is what appeals to me in the pieces of art work and furniture I am drawn to,” Hurst said. “I also like the organic nature of metal and how metals change over time.”

In 2012, Hurst realized how much the pieces she created appealed to customers.

“Before then, I had been going to festivals and saying, kind of dismissively, ‘Oh, I made this.’ But 2012 was the year I did a lot of big shows and realized that people really wanted to buy these pieces. I also started to see repeat customers,” Hurst said.


One of the first pieces patrons responded to was the mixed metal bracelet.

“Each piece of the bracelet is a little piece of art and I link all the pieces together. The narrow bracelet is probably one of my best sellers,” Hurst said. “One of my favorite things to do is make the bracelets personal for people. I’ve made them where each link represented a child or grandchild. Some have included a charm that

had the thumbprint of a loved one that died. And some were medic alert bracelets.”

Another best-seller is the elongated cross necklace. Hurst credited her mother for inspiring the piece.

“I was making small hand-forged crosses when my mother asked if I could make one that was long. She went on to describe exactly what she wanted. That is a piece that I’ve made over and over again,” Hurst said. “Even though I repeat a design, each piece is a little different because

22 Decatur Living 50 Plus
Bracelets and earrings created by Leigh Ann Hurst. [JERONIMO NISA/LIVING 50 PLUS] Necklaces created by Leigh Ann Hurst. [JERONIMO NISA/LIVING 50 PLUS] Leigh Ann Hurst polishes an earring to give it a matte finish. [JERONIMO NISA/LIVING 50 PLUS]

is handmade. I don’t use molds and nothing is

Everything is one of a kind.”

Hurst, who spends every day forging, soldering, hammering, filing and assembling pieces, continues to experiment with her art.

“I love going to workshops and learning. The workshops

like a retreat to me. I want to try different mediums, like pottery, not to develop it into a business, but to be able to take techniques from it and incorporate it into what I’m

Hurst said.


Along with Hurst, other local artists showing at the River Clay Fine Arts Festival are Bonnie Hurst, Bryan Johnson, DeAnn Meely, Johanna Littleton, Kristi Hyde, Rebecca Sower and Rickie Higgins, all of Decatur; and Emily Barkley of Tanner. Artists also will represent Georgia, Tennessee, Mississippi, Michigan, Missouri, New York, Indiana, Kentucky, Florida, North Carolina, Louisiana and Ohio.

River Clay will take place on the grounds of City Hall, 9 a.m.-5 p.m. on Oct. 22 and 10 a.m.-4 p.m. on Oct. 23. Weekend passes cost $5 for adults and are free for children 12 and younger accompanied by an adult. The festival will kick off with River Clay Rendezvous, an arts patron preview party Oct. 21, 5-9 p.m. Tickets cost $60.

For more information, visit

Your Local



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Animal shelters serve as temporary way stations for animals that are between homes. The purpose of shelters is to offer food and safe surroundings for surrendered or lost pets until they can be reunited with owners or be adopted by new families.

The ASPCA says around 6.3 million companion animals enter U.S. shelters every year, with a nearly even split between dogs and cats. While shelter pet numbers are on the decline since 2011, many shelters simply cannot house too many animals. In many instances, shelters rely on pet foster families.


Fostering a companion animal is an agreement by an individual to care for a needy pet in his or her private residence until the animal is placed in a permanent new home. Many times, shelters will ask foster parents to step up and house puppies to provide early socialization and training to acclimate these young animals to living in homes.


The question of financing foster care depends on the organization one works with. Most shelters or rescue organizations will cover at least some of the costs of supplies and medical care. However, this is not always the case. It is important for potential foster parents to understand the commitment fostering requires before signing up.


While there are many benefits to the pet, including a less stressful, quiet environment, people get something out of fostering, too. Foster families can provide love and affection to an animal that needs it. It can be rewarding to do something selfless and teaches compassion to everyone in the household. Since having a pet is a large responsibility, pet fostering also serves as an introductory lesson for anyone considering becoming a permanent pet parent. When fostering a pet, everyone in the household gets to see the day-to-day tasks that pet ownership requires.


The ASPCA says that time commitments for fostering can vary. Sometimes it may be a matter of weeks, or it could be months, depending on the foster program and the pet’s situation.


A foster program will explain their specific expectations. These may include training the pets to void outdoors or in a litter box. Foster parents may be expected to teach a dog to rest in his crate or basic commands.


The animal care resource Great Pet Care says municipal shelters, nonprofit shelters and nonprofit animal rescue groups typically have fostering programs. Rescue groups tend to have more time and resources to provide temporary pet parents with more compatible animal matches.

24 Decatur Living 50 Plus


Halloween is an enjoyable holiday for all, but particularly for children. Kids enjoy the opportunity to channel their whimsy and imagination, whether that involves choosing a clever costume or helping design the theme and scope of home decorations.

Grandparents can help channel the creativity inspired by Halloween into various craft projects. Crafts can not only keep children busy when the “I’m bored” lamentations inevitably turn up, but crafts also are a way to keep children off of screens. Plus, the items that children create can be used to decorate rooms in the house -

helping to curb added expenses on commercial decor.

The following are some Halloween crafts children can make alone or with the help of grandparents.


The toothy grins of jack-o’-lanterns can be seen just about everywhere come Halloween, and the bright orange color of pumpkins heralds the start of fall. What better way to say “Halloween is here” than with a craft that can be displayed and also played with? Slime is something that’s always a big hit with kids. Here’s a recipe for slime, courtesy of The Best Ideas for Kids.

· 6 ounces of Elmer’s glue (substituting with another brand of glue may not produce the same results)

· Orange food coloring to create desired hue

· 1/2 teaspoon of baking soda

· 11/2 tablespoons of contact lens solution (one that contains boric acid in the ingredient list, as that is what causes the chemical reaction to form slime)

· Optional: 2 tablespoons of water added to the glue before the baking soda if you desire a stretchier slime


Call a licensed Humana sales agent

26 Decatur Living 50 Plus
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help you find a HumanaMedicareplanthat fitsyourneedsandyourbudget AHumanaMedicareAdvantageplangivesyou everythingyougetwithOriginalMedicare, andmayincludeadditionalbenefitsandservicesthatmattertoyou. Amore humanway to healthcare™ *Noobligationtoenroll.
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a trip to a nearby forest


gather up round pinecones

have fallen. Purchase brown pipe cleaners and cut four of the cleaners in half to form eight legs. Glue the legs on the pinecone and attach several small googly eyes and two larger ones to form

eyes of the


Rather than discarding the tubes inside of paper towel or toilet paper rolls, let kids transform them into monster craft treat holders. They’ll be perfect

for party favors or even to give out to neighborhood trick-or-treaters. Cover the bottoms of the rolls with masking tape so treats won’t fall out. Paint the outside of the cardboard rolls and let dry. An alternative is to cover the rolls in colored paper for less messy fun. Then use markers or paper cut-outs to form faces of the monsters. Fill the rolls with treats, then stuff a piece of tissue paper in each top to add even more personality to the creations and hide the treats inside.


Make a truly eco-friendly craft on Halloween, with ghosts made out of leaves, eliminating the need to use extra paper. Paint large leaves with white paint. On the narrow-most point on top of the leaves, paint black eyes and mouths. When completely dry, scatter on a table or sideboard for some scary fun, or use double-sided tape to stick to windows and doors.

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trail and


From left, Jimmy Dobbs, Stewart Roby, Mike Seal and Dale Higdon have worked at GE Appliances’ Decatur plant since it opened in August 1977. They’re standing with the first refrigerator model made at the company’s top-freezer refrigerator plant in Decatur. The four just celebrated their 45th anniversary with the company. [COURTESY PHOTO/ DUSTIN STRUPP]


Dale Higdon choked up recently as he reminisced about what his grandfather told him when he got a job with GE Appliances’ new plant in Decatur and became one of 77 employees who started there Aug. 15, 1977.

“Boy, you got the chance of a lifetime,” Higdon’s grandfather told him. “You take care of them, they’ll take care of you and you’ll be the guy turning out the lights.”

Forty-five years later, Higdon is one of four employees who’ve been at the plant all 45 years of its operation. He joins Jimmy Dobbs, Stewart Roby and Mike Seal as employees in their fifth decade

of making white, avocado, almond and harvest gold-colored refrigerators. They have a combined 180 years of experience at the plant... and counting.

Higdon, 64, of Priceville, was only 18 when he was hired at the then-new plant. He said there were a couple of reasons he decided to work for GE.

“The reputation of the company was very good back then and still is now. To

28 Decatur Living 50 Plus

start up in a new industry just seemed like there was nowhere to go but straight up with it,” Higdon said.

Higdon said he has stayed with the company for so long because GE has been good to its employees and treats him well.

“I feel like I have a small piece of the business here that I get to run and it’s fun, it’s challenging every day.”

Higdon currently works as the senior manager of supplier quality and oversees the quality of purchased supplies such as metal, plastic or paper. He has also been a press operator, a metal controlman, a lab manager, an advanced engineer and a design engineer.

“I am responsible for the quality of every component we buy to make our refrigerators,” he said of his current role. “We try to be good stewards of our business and for the community. We buy from many local suppliers,

which helps keep many other people employed in the community.”

While some of Higdon’s roles in the past were physical at the plant, he said he was used to hard work because he grew up on a farm and you never stop working on a farm. He said on his first day his supervisor took him to a machine and showed him how to run the press and put parts in a box.

“I looked at her very particularly and she was like, is there a problem? I was like, ‘No, I’ve never been paid this much for this little work in my life,’” he joked.

Higdon grew up in Priceville and graduated from Brewer High School. He then received an associate’s degree in electronics and a bachelor’s in management of technology from Athens State University.

Higdon said he is not planning on retiring anytime soon. “My health is extremely good, I enjoy what I do, and people still treat me very well, so I’m in no hurry to run off and be bored.”

Decatur Living 50 Plus 29
Dale Higdon, senior manager of supplier quality for GE Appliances in Decatur, was 18 when he was hired at the plant in 1977. [COURTESY PHOTO/ DUSTIN STRUPP] Mike Seal programs the coordinate measuring machine (CMM) where he measures refrigerators to ensure they meet specifications. [COURTESY PHOTO/DUSTIN STRUPP]

Mike Seal programs the coordinate measuring machine (CMM) where he measures refrigerators to ensure they meet specifications. [COURTESY PHOTO/DUSTIN STRUPP]

Higdon is married to Becky Higdon, and they have two daughters and six grandchildren.

Seizing an opportunity

Seal, 65, grew up in Trinity where he resides still and graduated from West Morgan High School. He then received an associate’s in science from Calhoun Community College. His plan was to go to Auburn University, but he started working in the summer of 1977 for a contractor to set up the inside of the GE plant.

“When the plant started up in August, I just decided I would stay here. I kind of liked what we were doing, and I was in on the ground floor of this new appliance manufacturing plant. Thought it was a good opportunity to stay here,” Seal said.

Seal never went to Auburn but said things worked out well by staying close to home. He was 20 years old

when he was hired at GE. Seal said he has stayed at the same job all these years because the pay and benefits have been good, and he has made friends there.

“After a while you really don’t want to start all over with someone else,” he said. “You build up a lot of benefits with vacation and things of that nature, but the main thing is the relationships you build over the years. You’ve got a lot of friends here. I enjoyed the work also.”

Seal said people should find a job they enjoy doing like he has. His current role is as a senior quality analyst role on second shift. He also is a programmer for the coordinate measuring machine (CMM) where he measures parts and refrigerators to make sure they meet specifications.

“We can take whole refrigerators or even just doors or components of those refrigerators and we can set them up on this machine. I write a program for them that will tell me the dimensions that I need so that all the parts fit together correctly,” Seal said.

Seal started on the assembly line with an injection mold press that made plastic parts. Since then, he has driven a forklift, worked repairing units, and been in quality control.

Seal said it ended up being very important to him to work close to home. He said he has a lot of friends in the area, married locally, and has had three generations attend West Morgan. Seal is married to Sandy Seal, and they have two sons and five grandchildren.

As far as retiring goes, Seal said he thinks he still has a few years left at the plant. When he does retire, he plans to do more fishing.

Reinforcing plant culture

The other two 45-year employees at the plant also are still going strong. Dobbs is a quality analyst in the CAT Lab, and Roby is Value Stream leader for Line 2.

Leifje Dighton, Decatur’s plant manager since March, said having employees working at GE for 4½ decades helps with the culture at the plant.

30 Decatur Living 50 Plus

“It’s good to have people that are new who think differently, but it’s also good to have people that have been here for a long time that are stable and that have the history that this plant has that a lot of us don’t have or know,” she said.

From what Dighton has seen in her career at GE, she said she believes Decatur may have more longtime employees than the company’s other plants.

Dighton said Higdon is a humble, dedicated and professional employee who gets the job done. She said Seal is very technical and handles a lot of the more difficult testing and said she respects that he has been loyal to the plant.

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Thanksgiving is as synonymous with football as it is with turkey. When sports fans tune into the big games Thanksgiving Day, two teams are on the field every year: the Dallas Cowboys and the Detroit Lions. There is no rule in place that says these teams must play on Thanksgiving, but it has become tradition. When the National Football League makes its Thanksgiving schedule each year, the Lions get scheduled for an early afternoon game and the Cowboys a late afternoon matchup.

These traditions can be traced back to publicity stunts to draw in more fans. The Lions played their first Thanksgiving game in 1934, while the Cowboys started the tradition in 1966. Other teams had played on Thanksgiving prior to these years, but the Lions solidified their place when then-owner George A. Richards (also an NBC-affiliated radio station owner) established a contract with NBC to show his Lions games on Thanksgiving across 94 stations.

In 2022, there is once again a tripleheader on Thanksgiving Day. The Buffalo Bills will play the Detroit Lions at 12:30 p.m. ET; the New York Giants will play the Dallas Cowboys at 4:30 p.m. ET; and the New England Patriots battle the Minnesota Vikings at 8:20 p.m. ET. Fans can watch the Lions on CBS, the Cowboys on FOX and the Vikings on NBC.

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Exploring resources for caregivers


Caregivers are called on to step in for any number of reasons. Some serve as companions to the elderly, while others assist those with debilitating diseases like cancer. While many caregivers are professionals hired

for their services, a good number of caregivers are informal - meaning they are family members or friends assisting loved ones.

Even though they are trying to help others, caregivers often must confront a form of stress known as caregiver burnout. The Cleveland Clinic states this stress is marked physical, emotional and

mental exhaustion that occurs in caregivers. This burnout may lead to fatigue, anxiety and depression.

While there may not be a way to completely eliminate all caregiving stress, there are some ways to prevent burnout. Utilizing various resources can be a start. Here’s a look at some available caregiver resources.


Find someone you trust with whom you can discuss your feelings, including any frustration you may feel. This can be a neighbor or a coworker with whom you feel comfortable sharing personal details.


Support groups can provide safe spaces to vent with others who are

in the same boat. Houses of worship may host support groups, or you can find out about meetings through hospitals or from personal doctors.

The National Family Caregiver Support Program was established in 2000 and provides grants to states and territories to fund a range of support that assists family and informal caregivers to care for their loved ones at home for as long

as possible. Other groups include Caregiver Action Network and Family Caregiver Alliance.


Respite care services provide temporary breaks for caregivers by enabling the sick, elderly or injured to stay in care facilities for anywhere from a couple of hours to a few days. Some respite care services will provide short-term, in-home care as well.


Many therapists are trained to counsel individuals who have particular issues. Some may specialize in grief or even caregiver needs. Utilize their services if speaking with a confidante is not enough.

Caregivers often put the needs of others before their own. But they may need a little help along the way, which is where caregiver resources can come into play.

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Caregivers come from all walks of life, even if people may be most likely to associate caregiving with the paid professionals who work as home health aides or in nursing care settings. However, many caregivers are informal, family caregivers who are not paid for their services, but step in to help someone they love. Here’s a look at some of the numbers regarding family caregivers, courtesy of the National Alliance for Caregiving, AARP, GallupHealthways Well-Being Index, Respect Care Givers, and the career experts at Zippia.

the number of Americans who are providing unpaid care to a family member or a friend.

the percentage of caregivers who are middle-aged.

9.5 MILLION 46

amount by which caregiver numbers increased between 2015 and 2020.

the average age of an employed caregiver.

1 IN 5 70

the number of Americans who are caregivers.

the percentage of working caregivers who suffer work-related difficulties due to their dual roles.

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number of hours employed


week, not including caregiver services.

percentage of

percentage of caregivers residing in urban or suburban areas.

percentage of caregivers caring for parents or parents-inlaw. Fifty-one percent care for a spouse or partner.

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family caregivers who are women (29.3 percent are men). the
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Toast to good health with traditional wassail

The practice of wassailing is a time-honored tradition that has spanned centuries. When wassailing, people go door-to-door, singing and offering a sip of drink from something called a wassail bowl. Most do it to spread holiday cheer and wish good health on their neighbors.

Wassail drink was originally made from mulled ale, curdled cream, roasted apples, eggs, cloves, ginger, nutmeg, and sugar. Most wassails are now mulled ciders, which are popular in late fall - notably around Thanksgiving.

There are many versions of wassail beverages, including this “Traditional Wassail,” courtesy of “The Farmer’s Almanac.”

Traditional Wassail




ground ginger


Preheat oven to 400 F. Cut the apples into thick slices, and arrange in layers in a covered casserole dish, sprinkling a few teaspoons of sugar over each layer. Cover and bake for 30 minutes. (The apples will get puffy and soft.) While the apples bake, combine the beer, spices, lemon zest, and remaining sugar in a large saucepan. Heat slowly, bringing just to a simmer. (Don’t let the mixture boil.) When it is hot, add the sherry and keep heating until the mixture reaches a simmer again, still not boiling. Place the hot baked apples in a punch bowl, and pour the hot wassail over them.

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peeled and cored (such as Baldwin, Gravenstein, McIntosh, or Stayman Winesap) ▶ 1 cup
▶ 2 quarts beer or ale ▶ 2 cinnamon sticks, broken in half, or 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon ▶ 1 teaspoon
▶ Zest of 1
▶ 11/2 cups sherry or sweet red wine


Turkey is the centerpiece of Thanksgiving dinners. The National Turkey Federation estimates approximately 46 million turkeys are consumed on Thanksgiving each year, followed by 22 million turkeys at Christmastime.

Turkey makes a pleasing picture on the dinner table. However, some people insist that turkey is their least favorite component of the Thanksgiving meal. One of the biggest complaints is turkey tends to be dry.

There are many reasons why turkey can come out dry. Turkey is a lean meat, and Healthline reports that turkey has slightly less fat in its dark meat than chicken. Another reason why turkey may be dry is due to its poor breastto-leg ratio. By the time one gets the leg meat to cook to temperature so it’s safe for consumption, the breast meat often has dried out. Seeing how many people dive for the breast meat initially, they could dish up some dry bird.

There are many ways home cooks can prevent dry turkey this Thanksgiving. Consider these turkey-tending tips.

▶ BRINE YOUR BIRD. According to ScienceBlogs, what causes a human to perceive a food as juicy may actually be his or her own saliva at work. Salty foods may stimulate the production of saliva in the mouth, helping the food to feel much more moist while on the palate. To adequately inject enough salt into the turkey meat, submerge it in a salt brine for a few days before cooking.

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WATCH YOUR COOK TIME. It’s important to avoid overcooking the turkey, which will turn it as dry as the Sahara. Some turkeys come equipped with popup timers to help cooks gauge when to take them out of the oven. However, a more accurate tool is a digital food thermometer that can be set to go off when the turkey reaches the correct internal temperature.

▶ COOK THE TURKEY PARTS SEPARATELY. As previously noted, the breast meat will likely reach the desired temperature before the leg meat. To fix this, take the turkey out of the oven when it reaches five to 10 degrees before safe temperature for the breast meat, around 165 F. (Remember, the meat will continue to cook while “resting.”) Let guests “ooh and aah” over the pictureperfect turkey. Then cut off the legs and return them to the oven until they are done. Arrange the properly cooked breast and leg meat together on a serving platter.

▶ OFFER CONDIMENTS. A moist dollop of stuffing, a drizzle of gravy or a scoop of cranberry sauce can add moisture to turkey. This approach does not prevent drying out, but it can make a turkey that has dried out a bit more satisfying.

Dry turkey can put off diners. However, some strategies can harness as much moisture as possible to enhance Thanksgiving dinners.


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